Opinion

More please Chancellor - if we are to avoid an unprecedented wave of unempoyment: Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire director

Written by: Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire | Posted 16 July 2020 9:00

More please Chancellor - if we are to avoid an unprecedented wave of unempoyment: Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire director

Surveys of every aspect of our economy seem to be two a penny in these very uncertain days for business.

We probably don’t take many of them very seriously.

But when the survey is carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce-of which Business West is a major partner-you do really have to sit up and take notice.

That’s because their latest landmark survey out today had 7,400 responses and is the largest of its kind in the UK.

And it has been done in association with Totaljobs, one of the largest e-recruitment businesses.

The results are scary to say the least.

*29 per cent of the businesses surveyed expected to decrease the size of their workforce in the next three months

*28 per cent had decreased the size of their workforce in quarter 2 but 66% had kept their workforce  constant reinforcing the success of the Job Retention Scheme

Over the next three months, the survey found 18 per cent of micro firms-with fewer than ten employees-expected their workforce to decrease.

And likewise, 41 per cent of SMEs surveyed-with 10-249 employees-expected also expected to lose staff. Large firms-with over 250 employees-also expected to lose people.

The British Chambers of Commerce and Totaljobs are calling on the government to reduce the cost of employment to companies with a temporary cut in employer National Insurance contributions plus support to upskill and retain people.
From where I sit in Gloucestershire, I think this survey-although scary-is slightly better than the local picture here.

In Gloucestershire, we have 76 500 people on the furlough scheme with a worrying prediction by those in the recruitment field that up to 40 per cent of those employees could lose their jobs as the scheme closes down by the end of October.

How do those furlough numbers break down into work sectors?

I cannot get the answer to that, but I am afraid that many people in hospitality will become jobless.

And, of course, perhaps the biggest losers in this Covid-19 employment world will be our young people—school, college and university leavers.

And added to that jobless group will be good, young people who have been working in hospitality - hotels, restaurants and pubs-who are work ready.

I believe that Rishi Sunak, our very innovative Chancellor, will have to dish up some more company support in his September Budget if surveys like this today are not going to get a lot more scary and a lot more realistic.

Ian Mean is a director of Business West Gloucestershire.